Thursday, September 13, 2018

Creating Positive Change

Text and Photos by Mike Salsbury, a recent Pop Wuj Spanish Social Work student

As I wind down my Spanish immersion experience at Pop Wuj, it is time to reflect even more on the eye-opening experiences I have gained and to recognize the many lessons learned on this journey to Guatemala.

There truly is something unique and special about the Pop Wuj school and the purpose of its existence. From hours long discussions with long-time instructors, whose work now ripples across borders and into communities all over the planet, to workers who are former project participants now serving in their own communities with the passion to help others, the lesson is that positive change starts and exists within us all both--as individuals and as contributing members of our communities...It is a powerful energy that thrives in such a place and that evolves from a deep sense of purpose.

I am fortunate that my employer has the vision to recommend participation in such a program. At least half of my clients will be Spanish speaking. In the past few weeks I have started a journey towards gaining improved skills towards speaking Spanish and will leave Pop Wuj with confidence that my experience in Guatemala will enhance my ability to develop a positive therapeutic relationship with those I serve as clinical supervisor of a substance use disorder treatment program.  The quality of the therapeutic relationship is shown to be the most important component of facilitating positive changes in clients as it can enhance motivation and engagement.

This experience was very positive as it allowed me an opportunity to combine my passion for social justice with my past experience as a newspaper photojournalist.

While here I had the opportunity to observe some of the social programs and take a few photographs, some of which are included here.

I’m confident I’ll be back.

View from La Victoria, one of the Nutrition Program communities 

Dr. Herman and a Pop Wuj student weigh a baby in the Nutrition Program

Little ones and family members at a Nutrition Meeting

Dr. Carmen Rosa 

Snack time at the Nutrition Program

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